On sale at Createspace
On sale at Createspace
The Theory of Play is part of a treasure of manuscripts found in a flea market near Cooperstown, New York, in November 2007. This essay, written in 1895 by Marilla Waite Freeman, is a literary trip over millions of years since the origins of life until the rising of poetry, ‘the freest and highest expression of life.”
Marilla Waite Freeman was born in Honeoye Falls (New York), on February 21, 1870, and died in White Plains (New York), on October 29, 1961, and those ninety plus years were lived with the intensity and a thirst of knowledge very rare to find.
After obtaining a degree in literature, from University of Chicago, in 1897, Marilla went on to become, three years later, one of the first women in graduating as a professional librarian in the United States. That profession, librarian, was the center of her life. Although she also become one of the first female lawyers in the country (she obtained her degree in 1921, when she was fifty years old), she never practiced law. Her passion was trying to enrich people’s lives with the help of books.
Marilla was a librarian for almost sixty years. While studying at the University of Chicago, she was an assistant in the university library. At the time, she also was a cataloguer in Newberry Library, another prestigious library in Chicago.
Marilla was always on the move. She also held positions as librarian in the Michigan City Public Library (Indiana), the Davenport Public Library (Iowa), the Newark Public Library (New Jersey), the Goodwyn Institute Library in Memphis (Tennessee), The Louisville Library (Kentucky), the Foreign Law Library at Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts), and the Cleveland Public Library (Ohio), where she was the director of the Main Library –at the time, the second largest public library in the country– for eighteen years. Her outstanding career also included positions as volunteer librarian at the military base Camp Dix, during World War I, and in St. Joseph’s Hospital Library in New York, after her retirement from the Cleveland Public Library, in 1940. In all the places she worked, Marilla always made a positive impact, and her free spirit of “fire maker”, always brought enthusiasm and new ideas.
Marilla Waite Freeman was concerned with turning libraries into living centers of their communities and into generators of justice and social change. Many of her ideas, such as thematic exhibitions, interlibrary loans, and traveling libraries, are still a vital part of the library world, but almost no one remembers who came up with these ideas in the first place.
Marilla published many valuable essays on a wide spectrum of subjects: on the promotion and psychology of reading, on the improvement of reference collections, on management of small and low budget libraries. From the end of the 19th century until the mid-20th century, she produced and admirable body of work still dispersed in magazines, waiting to be compiled and appreciated.
Nothing seemed alien to her interest. Although she used to write about librarianship (her articles dealt with topics such as the relationship of libraries with schools, adult education, censorship, the movies, hospitals, war, and even social outlook), her whole work seems more like a manual for a good and fructiferous life. There is, in her writings, a human perspective and an ethical dimension that not only make them valid today, but even necessary.